CRISPR-mediated activation of latent HIV-1 expression

Prajit Limsirichai, Thomas Gaj, David V. Schaffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Complete eradication of HIV-1 infection is impeded by the existence of cells that harbor chromosomally integrated but transcriptionally inactive provirus. These cells can persist for years without producing viral progeny, rendering them refractory to immune surveillance and antiretroviral therapy and providing a permanent reservoir for the stochastic reactivation and reseeding of HIV-1. Strategies for purging this latent reservoir are thus needed to eradicate infection. Here, we show that engineered transcriptional activation systems based on CRISPR/Cas9 can be harnessed to activate viral gene expression in cell line models of HIV-1 latency. We further demonstrate that complementing Cas9 activators with latency-reversing compounds can enhance latent HIV-1 transcription and that epigenome modulation using CRISPR-based acetyltransferases can also promote viral gene activation. Collectively, these results demonstrate that CRISPR systems are potentially effective tools for inducing latent HIV-1 expression and that their use, in combination with antiretroviral therapy, could lead to improved therapies for HIV-1 infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-507
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery

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